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OFFICIAL HISTORY: ITS PITFALLS AND CRITERIA
thing is done in a foreign country, especially a country
that we happen to be observing with a certain jealousy,
One of the gravest signs of what seems to me to be a
decline from the principles explicitly instilled into me when
I was young is an inability to step out of one's own shoes
and even a deprecation of any attempt to step into the shoes
of othersand this is a sin which involves the overthrow
of the essential discipline of history. In communications
concerning our presumptuous view that we can "re-
educate " the Germans in history, I have seen humour
so far lost that, while German historiography has been
regarded as national, whether it was Nazi or not, there
has been a sublime and awful assumption that our own
current version of the course of ages was the uncoloured
" scientific " historya thing appropriate to be imposed
by direct transmission upon a defeated Power. When
I was an undergraduate we were taught to mo^k the
simplicity of German historiography in the Bismarckian
era, which went so far as to produce " contemporary
history " under Bismarck's wing, using the documents
the great man himself chose to have revealed, and even
allowing him to influence and interpret the historical
accounts of his own activity. The future historian will
certainly find it useful if all the Bismarcks are allowed to
say as much as possible for themselves; but I seem to
have noticed a tendency to believe that what was naiveti
when it was done by the contemporaries of Bismarck is
virtue now, and one is made to feel as though one were
hitting below the belt if one suggests (what is certainly
true) that there are many booby-traps for the historian
in such a policy.

H.H.R.                                   193                                           K